Washington Supreme Court struck down fare-enforcement checks by police. ($) Fare ambassadors, who are not police and focus on education, still appear allowed. Sound Transit and Metro switched to fare ambassadors several months ago. The decision (thanks Tlsgwm).

Downtown Seattle work commutes continue to evolve. ($) (Mike Lindblom) 60% of 320,000 workers come to the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and above 50% on Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays are lower. This study by Commute Seattle and UW used the larger “Center City” definition of downtown, which includes Uptown, Capitol Hill, and the CID. Comparing 2019 to 2022 in the AM peak, workers using transit fell from 46% to 22%, teleworking soared to 46%, and walking fell from 7% to 3%. On a good note, driving alone didn’t increase; it fell from 26% to 21%. Volumes on the West Seattle Bridge, which had been close to 100,000 pre-pandemic, are now 60-65,000. (That leaves more room for transit lanes?)

City councilmember Tammy Morales supports the “North and South of CID” alternatives for DSTT2 (the second downtown Link tunnel). We disagree, and are leaning toward a DSTT1-only alternative.

KUOW on the new Burke-Gilman bike trail option in Ballard. The report starts a minute or two into the audio clip; it doesn’t show an exact timestamp.

This is an open thread.

105 Replies to “Open Thread: No Fare Police”

    1. The main takeaway I got is that ‘trams’ (specifically at-grade 1~2 car vehicles) versus modern busses especially articulated/trolley bus really don’t have much advantage anymore. I guess the rail, even in this weird guided situation, does help with station boarding. But the turning radius situation has been been fixed with smarter articulation.

      The main attention should be on routing/right-of-way/station spacing rather than about whether rubber or metal wheels.

  1. “Fare ambassadors, who are not police and focus on education, still appear allowed.”

    This is patently untrue. The Court also said fares cannot be checked while the passengers are trapped between stops/stations. They must have the ability to walk away if they desire. Otherwise it can be seen as detention without cause.

    1. “Fare policing is racist”
      “Fare policing is classist”
      “Fare policing targets homeless”
      “Fare policing is unconstitutional”

      I think we’re seeing the end of proof of payment. It has been whittled away at over time but this is simply the nail in the coffin

      The lack of fare enforcement would not reduce the frequency of uncomfortable or unsafe experiences that happen on the light rail however. It will not stop people from smoking fentanyl on the light rail. People will eventually complain

      Vancouver expensively retrofitted fare gates onto some of its skytrain system when people complained. I expect things to head that direction whenever sound transit eventually decides to try to eliminate its existing at grade crossings without controlled access points

    2. Free fares doesn’t mean we can’t have roaming personnel to deal with misbehavior like fentanyl smoking. It’s both illegal and against the agencies’ regulations.

      1. If ST is willing to address the issue head on then and actually have people arrested for every time an incident like this happens then it would certainly change things

        I don’t personally think ST has the political capital to see it through however. An controlled access transit system is easier by default to regulate so incidents like that don’t occur. Someone who harassed people or trashes the seating on the light rail is unlikely to think a fare is worth paying so often they are deterred from getting on the system. Fare evasion naturally would decrease as well. Of course a controlled access system is not on the table…yet but I could imagine it becoming more likely in the future

      2. I’m sorry, but “hav[ing] people arrested every time an incident like this happens” is not going to change junkies’ behaviors. THE JUNK IS A FELONY! If that isn’t enough of a deterrent, getting hauled in for smoking it on the bus or train isn’t going to either.

        There are two ways to keep them off, and neither is cheap. The first, and preferable one, is detention in a humane detoxification facility for long enough that they can actually begin to realign their metabolism any time someone is smoking controlled substances in a public place. Since this would cost a bundle, the Christofascists aren’t willing to shoulder their share of the burden, and besides, they like using the “danger” as a bludgeon against Democrats. What the hell, they don’t take the bus.

        The second is effective fare gates as described at the bottom (I like the classic “New York” model that looks like the entry to a jail. They have to be paired with platform screens to prevent people from walking down the tracks in at-grade territory and mounting the platform inside the fare paid area.

        That’s not cheap but at least it’s mostly a one-time expense. I understand that once in a while people will be cut to pieces by the trains because they don’t know that the doors won’t open until the train is aligned with the doors! Or the violator is too drunk or stoned to notice.

        Such tragedies are not likely to happen very often, because the trains still have track brakes which can stop them very fast in an emergency. Believe it or not, but empty trains with an operator strapped in have been stopped in forty feet from thirty miles an hour. Clearly you can’t do that with a loaded train; standees would fall down and people in seats might hit their heads against the seat in front of them.

        But the operator will “big hole” the train as strongly as required not to run over a trapped idiot.

        Maybe a few wouldn’t hit the track brakes and be glad to make an example. But most won’t do that.

      3. I think you hit the “sweet spot” (tennis player). Personally, I think fares should be eliminated and that there should be active police/security to keep lines in order. My understanding is that it only provides $80M or so – and a good proportion is spent on the collection. As an ex-east-sider (now live in best city in Washington), this means kicking people off who are sleeping, hauling debris in the aisle or causing mayhem. Sound Transit can do this now – and they do now. I’ve witnessed encounters (the security workers are great). Got involved once (I’m Irish) – so I don’t think this is an either / or. The turning point will happen when…. ???

    3. That is not the way I interpret the ruling. To be clear, I’m not a lawyer. But the fact that the fare enforcers were armed police is clearly relevant. On a related measure, look at the last paragraph of page 23 and the first paragraph of page 24:

      As a matter of both reasonableness and common sense, unless mass transit is offered for free, transit operators must be able to charge and collect fares from passengers. Therefore, as history and this court have long recognized, passengers using mass transit must pay their fares or they “may be ejected.” Loy v. N. Pac. Ry. Co., 68 Wash. 33, 39, 122 P. 372 (1912); see also State v. Mitchell, 190 Wn. App. 919, 361 P.3d 205 (2015) (interpreting RCW 35.58.585(2)(b)), review denied, 185 Wn.2d 1024 (2016). We do not question that premise.

      However, in this case, Meredith was asked for proof of payment by law enforcement officers, who then identified and arrested him using resources that no civilian conducting fare enforcement could have accessed. Although we are not asked to opine on the constitutionality of these later actions, they could not have occurred without the initial seizure.

      (End quote.) All of that means that it is quite reasonable for unarmed, civilian fare enforcers to simply kick people off the bus. They didn’t do that. They arrested him; they didn’t “eject” him. Had they simply kicked him off, there would not have been a case. This is what I’ve been arguing for, for quite some time now. If you don’t have proof of fare pavement, you get kicked off the bus. In the case of the trains, you get kicked out of the station, too. No fines, no arrests, you just get kicked off. Worst case scenario, you have a small subset that get kicked off, and never pay. So what? That represents a tiny portion of the riding public. Most of those folks will never pay. The vast majority of people — even those tempted to cheat — would not risk such embarrassment and hassle.

      As it is, this seems like a very limited ruling. I can’t say I understand all of it. For example, the key conclusion (page 31):

      Thus, a majority of this court holds that Meredith was unlawfully seized. See concurrence (Madsen, J.) at 1; concurrence (Fearing, J. Pro Tem.) at 11. In doing so, we do not “announce a sweeping holding” that “contact with a police officer checking fares on a barrier-free bus amounts to an unconstitutional seizure.” Contra dissent at 1. In this as-applied challenge, we hold only that this particular method of fare enforcement, as used in this case, disturbed Meredith’s private affairs and lacked lawful justification based on the record presented

      (End Quote) I interpret that to mean that you can still enforce payment, but it isn’t clear to me what is, and what is not allowed.

      1. I hope the agencies use widespread POP fare collections with fare inspection. Those found without POP are asked to alight from the transit vehicle; those could be handed a card explaining the Lift or low income fare programs. They would not be cited; they would not go into the court system. The fare inspectors would have uniforms, readers, and cell phones. ST routes 522, 545, and 550 seem like they should have had fare inspection decades ago. Likewise all the electric trolleybus routes and frequent Metro routes.

      2. @eddie — Exactly. Folks need to understand that a certain percentage of people will never pay They either ride for free or they don’t ride. It doesn’t actually cost the agency money either way. By kicking them off the bus, you ensure that people who are willing to pay do so, without all the negatives of heavy-handed enforcement.

        They are just ejected, like when they pick up too many fouls in basketball. Maybe the “fare ambassadors” should where black and white uniforms like referees.

      3. Tag team here: The key here was that they “over-stepped”. Could a fisheries officer, immigration officer, park ranger (hey hey Yogi, let’s go steal some pic-a-nic baskets) ask for fare & then issue an arrest? If said officer was to call in a fare enforcement officer, he/she could have issued a quick “get off the vehicle” request. It would then be followed by Trespassing if refused (my understanding). You’re not a lawyer Ross, you’re just related to a whole bunch of ‘dem rascals.

    4. This is completely misreading the case-that entire section of the analysis is about when police are deemed to have *seized* someone (as opposed to anything general about fares) and the entire opinion repeatedly and carefully stresses why police enforcement is different from civilian enforcement. Please learn fourth amendment law.

      1. @Joy, that’s correct but the entire first third of the analysis relies heavily on federal seizure doctrine, especially Mendenhall.

  2. “turnstiles, or just make it free for everyone to ride.”

    Free fares would be subarea specific, and I am not sure if one subarea could install gates or turnstiles but not another.

    Link is predicated on 40% farebox recovery to meet operation and maintenance costs, which according to ST recently were estimated $1.2 billion low, but of course is a much bigger deficit even with 40% farebox recovery.

    Pre-pandemic on the highest ridership line Link had one year in which it met the 40% goal, but that was never going to happen once suburban routes like East Link, Lynnwood and FWLE were added. Now post pandemic ST is already looking at probably a 20% farebox recovery rate if that.

    Free fares for everyone has two issues:

    1. It reduces ridership, especially with the loss of the peak rider, because the stations and trains become more unsafe and less clean. The eastside was promised fare enforcement on East Link would keep Seattle’s issues from riding across the lake to the eastside. Very few of us were upset with the extra three-year delay to open East Link. If fares are free I believe the eastside will look at the worth of East Link when so few eastsiders are going east. Truncate East Link at Mercer Island where trains can turn back.

    2. ST does not have a funding source to make up for free fares. So the obvious solution is to reduce costs like less frequency, less maintenance, less cleaning, etc., or to raise fares on those foolish enough to pay fares when they don’t have to.

    For anyone with a car free fares on Link and the consequences hardly matter. They can and do drive

    1. “It reduces ridership, especially with the loss of the peak rider, because the stations and trains become more unsafe and less clean.”

      Where is the evidence that free fares have caused this elsewhere?

      1. https://planning.org/planning/2021/fall/can-zero-fare-transit-work/#:~:text=Critics%20caution%2C%20however%2C%20that%20the%20loss%20of%20fare,in%20unruly%20behavior%20and%20criminal%20activity%20on%20board.

        Personally, I don’t care, but I agree with the spokesperson for the LA transit system in the link that proponents of free fares have to identify the replacement funding source first, especially in a transit agency like Link that assumes a very high farebox recovery rate, 40%. At least the LA transit agency recognized transit is for the poor, and in LA it is based on ridership.

        ST is very specifically funded. Either a subarea has the funding or revenue or it does not, and has to live within that budget, both capital and O&M budgets. I know progressives and transit advocates think money grows on trees, but WSBLE should tell them it does not. The awful design, which is still not affordable, is because the subarea can’t afford midtown stations or the shallow station on 4th.

        No one gets hit hardest by lack of funding or poor transit project management than transit riders. The rest of us driving around don’t give a s&%t if trains are unsafe or dirty or homeless camps or transfers are in a 100 yard underground unsecured tunnel from 5th and James to 3rd and James or are hourly.

        Link is unique because there are five subareas. If for example N. KC has very low fare recovery or even free fares that will affect its M&O, while if the eastside has a high fare recovery it will have much better M&O because it will have more farebox recovery. It isn’t fair to have an eastsider have a train they paid for return from Seattle looking like a homeless camp with urine and needles in it, even if we don’t plan to ride it. We don’t want to have to set up a sanitation site on MI for trains returning from Seattle before they head east.

        More and more some on the eastside are questioning the benefit of East Link. The three-year delay was mostly received with relief. Few of us go west to Seattle, and we are worried ST is not keeping its promise of clean and safe trains and stations. I think a very good argument could be made for truncating East Link at Mercer Island and using a few express buses to Judkins Park (with frequency based on eastsiders going west, not the other way around) which have better fare enforcement, which would save E. KC a lot of money because fewer trains would be required for that loop to Redmond than one to Lynnwood, which to me is beyond Pluto. We don’t mind paying Link fares if it will ensure clean and safe trains, stations, and good frequency. On the eastside. Even though we don’t really need frequency more than every 30 minutes peak.

        What I see right now is a shitshow. A DSTT2 that is mostly a real-estate deal for Seattle and King Co., because the council killed the downtown, with transfers in an underground tunnel no eastsider will ever take that the eastside has to contribute to, no midtown station, and trains and stations that are not clean or safe because they are not secured. It is like Seattle is intent on exporting what we moved to the eastside to get away from, including moving our firm FROM Pioneer Square.

        If you are an Eastsider and don’t go west what is the benefit of East Link, or having East Link go across the bridge to Lynnwood, let alone back east? None. Like any of us plan to take Link to Lynnwood or Ballard or West Seattle or the airport or Fife. If necessary, we will drive.

        Mike Orr is going to be on that train, not me, and if ST eliminates fares ST will need to reduce frequencies at least 40% because the whole O&M budget is a bunch of smoke and mirrors based on federal funding somewhere down the road, and there is no other funding mechanism, and no subarea is as broke as N. KC when you include WSBLE, which is why DSTT2 even with subarea contribution is now a real estate deal that has no hope of success post SIVB with no stations at CID or midtown. Really?

      2. One paragraph from a spokesman that uses the word could repeatedly is not evidence of anything. At least give me a study, even if it is from a horribly bias source.

      3. Yeah, I agree with A Joy, here. Particularly because there are examples of successful American services like the KC Streetcar that use free fare. And intuitively you could imagine that free fare increases ridership, which deters sleeping/smoking etc.

      4. “After the pandemic hit, Kansas City, Missouri, expanded its existing limited zero-fare program to make the bus and streetcar free for all riders. Compared to other cities, the system saw a smaller dip in ridership over the past year.”

        This actually proves the opposite of what you claim it does.

        When Corvallis went fare free, ridership increased 37% in the first year.

        Obviously, if fares are a significant part of the funding, you need alternative sources of revenue of the same service level is to be maintained.

      5. I was in Austin during the free fare experiment. Ridership went up noticeably. And so did operating expenses to deal with the extra ridership. What did not go up is revenue. Indeed, even some “progressive” politicians jumped on the right-wing bandwagon to take a big chunk of Capital Metro’s tax funding away.

        If free fare were to work on light rail, or the transit system as a whole, it would need increased tax funding, which would come with buy-in from the bodies that control taxation. Property tax runs into Constitutional caps. Sales tax is regressive, but nowhere near as regressive as fares and system slowdowns caused by fare collection.

        The lower the net fare recovery ratio gets, the more attractive it becomes to just make up that difference with tax revenue. Keep in mind that 20-40% fare recovery still means the *net* fare recovery is somewhere below that. However, ST and Metro have huge sunk costs in the ORCA system, that will last for years.

        The increased ridership will help solve the problem of riders manspreading a whole section of seats, since those seats will be occupied by passengers. The increased ridership will also help solve the problem of smoking on board, as there will be no private hideaways on board where a passenger can light up. Both of these problems were enabled by the significant ridership drop caused by the pandemic.

        Dealing with these nuisances is not the key to bringing ridership back. Bringing ridership back is the key to making these nuisances move along. (And I say “move along” because the fentanyl crisis will just get up and move somewhere else, not go away, and people needing a place to lie down will find somewhere to do so that’s merely less uncomfortable. And, oh yeah, the fentanyl crisis is hiding in the cocaine unwitting well-to-do people are smoking in the privacy of their homes.)

        Bringing ridership back means dealing head-on with what made it go away in the first place: the pandemic. Transit has a role to play to stop being a place where the virus is spread. Good air filtration and ventilation certainly are keys. The surface hygiene theater, probably less so, but it still merits more serious study before saying it does nothing. Doing those two still don’t justify leaving the wearing of masks out of the Passenger Code of Conduct.

        Some vile influencers still say “Masks don’t work.” They are waaay wrong about that, and the studies are finally coming in to back up the efficacy of masking at stopping the spread.

        I’ve heard from several people I know who have recently gotten COVID, and there is a common denominator. They got together with other people in an indoor setting, assumed everyone was vaccinated, and did not wear masks.

        I was (reluctantly) at an in-person meeting a couple months ago where there were two of us wearing masks. The person sitting to my right called a couple days later to warn us that she had tested positive for COVID. The two of us wearing masks did not catch it. I did not get to hear the results from the other attendees.

        “Mask mandates don’t work.” It depends on your definition of “work”. If you mean it doesn’t get everyone to wear a mask, you are probably right. If it means that mandates result in fewer people wearing masks, you are definitely wrong. When masks were mandated on planes, compliance was overwhelming. When the mandate was lifted, most passengers ceased wearing masks.

        One or two anti-maskers will claim that adding masking to the Passenger Code of Conduct will cause them to stop riding. If you ask me, that’s a feature, not a bug. But watch as the vast majority of riders get it that they still need to be wearing a mask while on transit, out of a sheer brotherly love and desire to see the virus put itself out of our misery.

        ST and Metro should put mask-wearing in the Passenger Code of Conduct, not just to get ridership back, but out of duty of care for their riders and employees. The ST Board and the King County Council are failing in that duty of care.

    2. “The eastside was promised fare enforcement on East Link would keep Seattle’s issues from riding across the lake to the eastside.”

      Where did you hear that, and by whom?

    3. In general, free fares do increase ridership, but not by a huge amount. Also, most of the additional ridership free fares does bring in tends to be people hopping on a bus to go one stop, who were planning to walk and just happened to see a bus coming.

      Free fares also come with costs, particularly loss of operating revenue, and the fact that, fair or not, keeping mentally unstable people out of public spaces often requires that the public space have some sort of financial barrier, exploiting the fact that a mentally unstable person would typically be unable to hold down a job to provide the money to pay for admission. Of course, charging fares also excludes many poor people who are poor, but *not* mentally unstable, but fair or not, using access to money as a proxy for basic mental competence often ends up being the simplest way to weed out undesirables, and if poor-but-mentally-competent people also get caught by the filter, that’s perceived as just an unfortunate necessary evil to keep bad behavior away.

      1. Perceived by who? Not by me, that’s for certain. I am upset when Metro/ST relies on Twitter to convey messages that should be posted at every stop for those without internet access. Money should *never* be a barrier to access basic public services. Ever. I have lost family members to this kind of thinking.

      2. Free Fare systems don’t always equal better services for everyone. I’m fine with better subsidized fares for lower income as that’s a case of using an effective social safety net. But I don’t want to sacrifice service which can become more volatile with a free fare model. Free fare models make sense in contexts like Island Transit, where it’s paying for solid rural transit service. But I don’t think it would work in Seattle where fares do help cover operating expenses even if the system is still heavily subsidized by taxes. Oftentimes lowering the fares but not making it free will move more people. I’m not against free fares for select contexts tho, I get a free RTD CollegePass paid by my university for systemwide access. I’d also be fine with free fares for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.

  3. I think the elimination of transit fares is going to be a trend that’s only going to grow. So, whether or not it’s legal for FEO’s to check fares isn’t important in the long run.

    1. I disagree and don’t think elimination of transit fares is going to spread as much in north america.

      For European cities they have plenty of support from their populace to pretty much have it be allocated from their taxes instead of transit fares. For small American (Kansas City etc…) cities, their transit is mainly consists of 30-minute routes, whether collected or not doesn’t really matter or in other cases is just for coverage not ridership. https://ridekc.org/rider-guide/system-map.

      On the other hand, for medium/large American cities the service provided is much higher and so are the costs as well as the revenue from transit fares. The shortfall from not collecting transit fares either has to be made up 1) as in Europe through much more tax funding or 2) cut much transit frequency down to 30/1hr etc… I don’t see any option being politically palatable.

      1. > For European cities they have plenty of support from their populace to pretty much have it be allocated from their taxes instead of transit fares.

        What cities/countries are you thinking of? Germany generally uses proof of payment, with infrequent but strict enforcement. I believe most of western Europe is the same.

      2. Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Austria use proof of payment predominantly for their metros and suburban rail.
        Beligum, Netherlands, France, Spain, etc use a mix. Fare Gates are common for metros. Netherlands and France use them for RER and intercity rail as well. Italy had proof of payment for buses and trams but common for fare gates for their metros.

      3. @Steve H.

        > > For European cities they have plenty of support from their populace to pretty much have it be allocated from their taxes instead of transit fares.

        > What cities/countries are you thinking of? Germany generally uses proof of payment, with infrequent but strict enforcement. I believe most of western Europe is the same.

        I meant in relation to Sam’s original idea that “I think the elimination of transit fares is going to be a trend that’s only going to grow”. USA cities don’t really have enough total support to have so much operational funding from taxes , whereas European cities/metro area if one has a large percentage of people taking transit then there’s much more support and practically makes sense to have increased taxes in lieu of transit fares.

      4. I stamped a train ticket wrong in Italy and it cost me 75 Euros on the spot. Transit police in Europe are real police and they absolutely don’t fuck around.

        And they target Black and Brown people, and punk ass teenagers. . Know the facts people. I’ve been to Europe and I hear so much bullshit about European transit and “social housing” and the like on this blog. I wouldn’t mess around with the transit police in Berlin. They can have you shipped back home to the USA if you think you want to mess with them.

      5. “And they target Black and Brown people, and punk ass teenagers.”
        They don’t, I lived in Italy and they check everyone’s tickets, in paticular rush hour & intercity trains and have no sympathy for fare dodging regardless of race. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, Florence, etc. They all check tickets and never saw anything racially motivated.

      6. Zach, I was on a train in Italy where I was woken up by police to check my passport. The woman a few rows up was also asked. She was black and got really upset and stated very loud and clear that she was a EU citizen and that the officers were being racist and only checking the tickets of people who were not white. I love Europe but there is noticeable discrimination in more overt ways than I have faced in the US (I’m not white btw). This past weekend I hosted a friend from Switzerland who is half Asian with a darker complexion and she talked at length about racism and comments she gets living in Switzerland. She’s born and raised there but there’s implicit assumptions that pervade society.
        I’m glad there’s been more attention to enforcement bias against people of color. I also understand that we need to collect fare to maintain proper system funding and to discourage negative social behavior that impacts others on transit. There’s studies where people respond differently and assign higher value to services when they have to pay, even when it’s only a nominal amount. It gets into human psychology but it’s something that impacts how people engage with their social environment.

      7. Alonso,

        Sorry you had some negative experiences in Europe…. with the rise of the number refugees and more Brown and Black people…. Europe is having some real political turmoil over questions like…. “What does it mean to be Italian? Or German?” Rightwing extremism is on the rise again.

        I also see the Sound Transit board struggling with racism. Several board members have come out against people riding for free and it’s coded towards younger non-White people. The Board seems to believe that fare enforcement is the way forward with a bigger “fare box recovery”

        In reality there’s so much negative behavior going down on transit, mental illness and drug related, transit outfits like Metro, ST and PT need to spend a bunch of money of security…. making that “fare box recovery”number even worse. Metro could spend all of the fare money and cleaning up facilities and security and have a way nicer bus system….. I vote for that because for some people the bus is the only option for getting around.

        The heart of the matter is there’s a deep disrespect for transit workers by Sound Transit, the general public and many posting on this board. Europe has better transit because they spend money to hire people to real jobs. Transit cops are actually real cops… with good pay and training. It’s a respected career. Sound Transit wants to use rent-a-cops and pay them squat because that would hit that “fare box recovery” number. Same with bus drivers… there’s no shortage of divers holding a current CDL who can drive bus. There’s a shortage of respect and cash for drivers all the way around however.

    2. Only a few cities in Europe have free fares. Tallinn, Estonia, buys unlimited passes for all residents, while suburban commuters and visitors still pay fares. A few other cities dropped fares more recently for environmental reasons, to reduce driving and fossil-fuel use.

      1. Germany going to €49/month countrywide subscription for local/regional transit. You will still need to pay for DB ICE/IC/EC trains. That’s basically the cost of an annual season pass in many German cities for transit.

  4. Amazon return to office FAQ from today

    Q: “If I now live far away from my assigned office, do I need to come into the office 3 days a week once my building is ready?”

    A: “Yes. We expect all employees to return to their assigned office at least three days a week when their building is ready. If there is a reason in which you cannot do so, please discuss with your manager to explore options such as allowing extra time until you can relocate back to your assigned area of transferring to another team near your location.”
    The question about when your team is remote but you are not:

    Q: “What if I’m the only or one of just a few people from my team in the office I’m assigned to – do I still need to go in at least three days a week?”

    A: “Yes. We believe that employees are much more likely to understand our unique culture and become part of it if they are surrounded by other Amazonians in person, even if not on their immediate working team. We encourage managers to work towards having as many of their team members together in one physical location as possible. We recognize that this will take time, and in some cases, managers may choose to make an exception and designate certain individuals as remote, but this will be a very small minority of the company overall.”

  5. The WA Supreme Court decision is very complex and nuanced. It’s not a blanket decision that fare enforcement checks are unconstitutional. It’s also not a blanket decision that fare enforcement checks are allowed all the time. As a non-lawyer it’s not clear to me what it actually tells transit agencies they can or can’t do. Only that what CT did regarding this particular individual was wrong. The Seattle Times article seems to think it won’t have much impact. I imagine that the legal departments at the various transit agencies are poring over the decision to understand what it means, and there may be guidance from the Attorney General’s office. But for now it seems to early to draw any broad conclusions.

    1. I wouldn’t call the opinion complex necessarily. It is intended by the majority to be very narrow however. The key issue is the seizure of Mr. Meredith and the specific circumstances under which that occurred. It really doesn’t go beyond that, i.e. providing a prescription for how fare enforcement can be structured going forward to avoid a warrantless seizure scenario, nor does it ultimately rule on the constitutuonality of RCW 36.57A.235 outside the scope of the case before it:

      “Meredith does not challenge the facial constitutionality of the statute. Instead, he brings an “as-applied challenge,” contending that article I, section 7 cannot permit “a fully armed law enforcement officer” to disturb the private affairs of passengers on moving public transit vehicles without reasonable suspicion for purposes of fare enforcement. Wash. Sup. Ct. oral argument, State v. Meredith, No. 100135-5 (Feb. 17, 2022), at 3 min., 51 sec. and 1 min., 57 sec., video recording by TVW, Washington State’s Public Affairs Network, http://www.tvw.org. On the narrow question presented, Meredith has met his burden of proving that RCW 36.57A.235 is unconstitutional as applied.”

      Of note is that Justices Madsen and Fearing came to the same conclusion and concurred with the majority albeit through different rationale:

      “The concurring justices agree that the statute did not provide authority of law in this case, but they would reach that conclusion as a matter of statutory interpretation, rather than constitutional law. See concurrence (Madsen, J.) at 1; concurrence (Fearing, J. Pro Tem.) at 9.”

      Fwiw, this (former) attorney concurs with the majority in this opinion.

      1. Complex may not be the right word, but the point is, it isn’t easy for someone who isn’t a lawyer to understand the ramifications. What will actually change? Anything?

    2. Correct, this is an as-applied challenge. The court makes it very clear that it isn’t ruling on the statute in general and there’s a lot of focus on the circumstances of law enforcement doing fare checks without visible supervision or consultation from civilian officials.

  6. Enforcing fares on EVERY SINGLE RIDER is not racist. Making different rules based on race is racist.

    Make it free for all if we want, but most people not on this board don’t want that and it’s not what voters approved.

    Our current approach is the worst. Building public bathrooms and drug dens would be cheaper than Link serving this purpose.

    1. They don’t make different rules, but I’ve certainly seen FEOs pick and choose who to enforce against and who to give a pass to. It really is no different than how some people (often based on race and gender) are able to talk their way out of traffic tickets.

      1. I’ve been fare checked about 40 times on Link or KCM. They check everyone and only “focus” on who is, currently, a thief.

        Perhaps we should ask why correlations exist for other reasons than the “racism” cop out.

  7. I haven’t read the ruling itself, only the linked Seattle Times article, but this stood out: “‘Without evidence that Meredith was informed that fare enforcement on the bus may involve questioning by law enforcement officers, the State cannot meet its burden of proving that Meredith voluntarily consented to such an interaction merely by boarding,’ said the lead opinion, written by Justice Mary Yu.”

    I’m almost positive I’ve seen some rider information placards on some Metro buses that say paying the correct fare is required – why not just post that on all buses and trains and be done? That seems sufficient to inform all riders that their fare might be checked while they ride.

    1. The ruling itself takes multiple issues with fare enforcement. More than STB or the Times cared to list.

    2. Some points that haven’t been discussed:
      1) this ruling is in part only coming down because the officers tried for criminal theft charges-absent that(say, if they only issued a civil citation), there’s no basis for a criminal case and thus no surpression hearing, and this never gets litigated. And because transit non-police officials don’t have power of arrest (only to kick you off or call backup) i don’t *think* they can *seize* you like a cop can. Also, the facts are pretty unflattering to the cops-yanking someone off a bus, handcuffing them for god knows how long, then charging for theft?

      2) The court places an enormous amount of stress on the fact that this is *police* enforcement-the core analysis is that because cops have enormous and far reaching powers to arrest, including to arrest for reasons unrelated to the initial encounter, solo fare checks by them are inappropriate in a way that civilian fare enforcement (even with the ability to call cops if someone becomes dangerous) isn’t.
      3) the court also comments on how typically cops who do enforcement are with civilian officers who guide the cop. This isn’t discussed in detail but i think it’s important since it means cops aren’t visibly adjuncts to civilian fare enforcement and one footnote actually comments on the problem of blurring *law* enforcement (wide ranging power to control, detain, etc) and *fare* enforcement (the narrower power to confirm that riders have paid their fares and eject non-payers).

    3. It’s important to keep in mind that the so-called “lead opinion” is not actually the majority ruling of the court. Only three justices signed on to it, making it have no precedential value. The majority of the court is completely fine with the concept of police-enforced fares, and only takes issue with a procedural flaw specific to this case.

  8. RMTransit has a video today about Seattle and ST3, particularly the poor transfers between the two tunnels downtown. Curiously, no mention of the elephant in the room, the unstated assumption that a second downtown tunnel is even necessary to begin with.

    1. Yeah, with the way the current Sound Transit board is totally unwilling to fight the Chinatown nimbies, I find myself hoping the the second tunnel gets canceled entirely. We don’t have enough ridership right now for it anyway. Chinatown is not really where Chinese immigrants are moving to anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time (hint: they’re moving to the suburbs, particularly Bellevue). Hopefully by the time we would need a second tunnel, the hopelessness of preserving a Chinese enclave downtown would be obvious to everyone and we could put the tunnel stations where they should be.

      But Dow Constantine has more power over these decisions than anyone (he appoints all the King County board members), and he’s decided to steamroll transit riders rather than nimbies.

      1. “Chinatown Nimbies”? Really? What not “transit hating gooks”? And it’s absolutely none of your business where “Chinese immigrants” are moving to. I love the CID and Lincoln District (Tacoma). Those neighborhoods have a to right to look out for their self interests.

        I hate to tell you this, but City politics are a rough and tumble game and frankly, I doubt you’re a player. Seattle Subway? not a player. The collection of business owners in the CID…. definitely players. Did it ever occur to you that the CID business folks came to Dow and Harrell with real questions about CID business survival during a decade of Sound Transit construction? Maybe, just maybe, the CID boosters are right? And Harrell and the ST Board just saw the truth?

        Sound Transit doesn’t have the right to destroy neighborhoods with 10 year “common good” mass transit projects. If UW can stiff arm Sound Transit, I’m OK with Asian business owners doing the same in the CID.

      2. I don’t think making 150 year decisions around who is currently renting a restaurant space (average lifespan 2 years?) makes any sense whatsoever.

      3. My guess Tacomee is ST took the CID for granted. During the secret scoping process for DSTT2 and WSBLE you know Amazon, the Chamber, DSA, WS, SLU assoc., Ballard, Queen Anne Assoc. (very litigious), Nordstrom, Ballard and the other players (represented by lawyers and lobbyists) were all consulted, which of course is why the midtown station and Westlake station were deep. ST just assumed a bunch of poor Asians in a district where the city and county have historically dumped their homeless and drug users could not object to a 6-10 year cut and cover construction schedule. Not against the mighty ST.

        The irony is the CID station is the one existential station for WSBLE because it is THE transfer point. ST should have started there.

        So the CID used the weapon it had: racism, and since in this case it was probably legitimate it worked, especially in Seattle against folks who love to use racism against everyone else (and of course “nimbyism” which means I can’t afford to live there or it won’t impact me).

        It scared the hell out of ST, Constantine, Harrell (who doesn’t think WSBLE is worth it, any political gain for him, or can be afforded so really doesn’t care), Morales, all the progressives. The rest of the stations and line can go almost anywhere, but it needs the CID station. Another irony is the CID might be the one vibrant retail area in the downtown other than the Pike Place Market which is around 20 blocks away.

        The other mistake ST made is thinking light rail is a benefit to businesses or neighborhoods. You would have thought East Link would have taught them that. That is the CID’s trump card: if ST warned them that without a DSTT2 station WSBLE would be cancelled they would say great, just get those East Link trains here asap, and lots of parking.

        ST is now just compounding the problem by not reaching out to the CID and asking what it would take. Several hundred million dollars goes a long way (unless you want a shallow station on 4th). East King Co. paid $300 million for a tunnel in Bellevue (but not under Bellevue Way). We know they want a parking garage, probably control over their own zoning and decisions about siting things like county rehab shelters, probably a lower building height limit so they dont’ become like Bellevue or Belltown, more police, better ingress and egress for cars, CASH (everyone including the UW loves cash), and a promised construction timeline with monetary penalties.

        Or pull out the checkbook for the 4th Ave. shallow station.

        But instead ST and transit advocates are blind, and continue to demand the CID see how 6 to 10 years of construction to build a second station to bring folks from south of SODO to the CID is some kind of inherent benefit to them because it is transit, when they don’t like transit. They can see 3rd Ave. They don’t want to be the transit mall 2.0, and nimbyism means nothing to them coming from privileged white progressive transit advocates living in N. Seattle.

        So time for ST, KC and Seattle to pull out the checkbook, and zoning code because it will cost less than a shallow station on 4th. Just the Sounder S. improvements were going to cost $1 BILLION for about 10 riders these days.

        I also think Harrell and Constantine made a huge error by claiming the mega station in Pioneer Square will be designed to somehow add value to their valueless county and city buildings. People on eastside blogs are beginning to question Balducci, and how such a station and line can be a “shared regional facility” if there is no midtown station, no CID station, the mega station requires a 100-yard walk through an underground tunnel in an area the station will hopefully make less dangerous, so as Harrell and Constantine foolishly publicly claimed their closed and vacant county and city buildings can hopefully have some value.

        For the most part folks on the eastside (not all) are more sophisticated about development, and know that in this market and post SIVB commercial development in Seattle and Bellevue — except the truly class A areas and I don’t know if there are any in Seattle right now — is very difficult, even by the most sophisticated developers, let alone the City of Seattle (think of the council) and King Co. who can’t plant a petunia for less than $1000 and five DEI supervisors.

        The first rule in mediation is if you have the checkbook negotiations are never over if someone has something you want. Look how the UW made ST bend over, like the UW would ever allow a light rail station on campus, but still required $70 million for two stations kind of near campus.

        But ST does not know how to NEGOTIATE. I learned that on MI. ST is a bully but is now vulnerable post pandemic with every project screwed up. Real negotiators know how to negotiate when they have the shorthand, except if you have a huge checkbook, you never really have the shorthand unless you are really, really stupid.

        ST is supposed to be the superstar sophisticated agency, and yet the CID is humiliating it. ST needs to hire a negotiator with ties to the CID who actually respects these poor Asian Nimby’s and send that person back in for some tea and negotiations, with a big checkbook, which the area has always deserved but Seattle, King Co. and ST always had so many pressing needs in wealthy white areas north of the CID.

        But that negotiator needs to understand the CID sees no benefit from a second station, really transit in general, or a DSTT2 that will bring poor people from the south, and you can’t really call them racist for that. It is just business reality.

        Otherwise I think there will be a growing movement among the four other subareas to claw back their $1.1 billion contribution to Harrell’s and Constantine’s real estate investment. If it is my subareas $275 million real estate investments Pioneer Sq. might be the last place I would want to invest.

      4. Y’all should check out today’s opinion piece in the ST about the CID2 station. The first couple of paragraphs are genius. That’s how to shut down CID2.

      5. @Sam — Here is the link: https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/two-light-rail-station-options-would-better-serve-protect-chinatown-international-district/. One of the writers (Shimuzu) also helped write the editorial for The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/guest-editorial/2023/03/15/78903843/the-4th-ave-station-is-a-train-wreck-for-the-cid. I agree, this one is better written. It might have been edited by the Seattle Times staff (I don’t know if they help with guest editorials).

        Anyway, it all goes back to the same basic problem: The new tunnel is stupid. Long before we had trouble finding a place for the stations, or dealing with really bad transfers or really deep stations, folks were calling it stupid. You don’t build a second tunnel downtown unless you maximize coverage. Doing otherwise inevitably creates problems.

        No matter what you do, it is expensive to do it right, and very disruptive. But at the very least you can point to new stations and say it is worth it. In this case, you really can’t. None of the new stations are good. None of them increase coverage. You can maybe say “Finally, we have a station at Madison”, but guess what — it is extremely close to an existing station. That was kind of the point. They didn’t want to increase coverage, because they didn’t want to ask people to transfer. They wanted this new tunnel to be similar to the old one (serve the core of downtown). Maybe not quite as well, but close. Now, of course, it won’t even do that. At best we get deep tunnels at “Midtown”. At worst we skip CID.

        All the while, no one studies sending all the trains into the existing tunnel. This is really stupid.

      6. Daniel Thompson,

        The crazy thing that in Seattle (and Tacoma’s) darkest days…… Asian immigrants were opening businesses when Wall St. money wouldn’t have touched this town with a 10 ft pole. Seattle owes them…. they owe Seattle nothing.

        I think some people on the blog are foolish if they don’t believe that Sound Transit won’t use transit projects and TOD to blow up non-White neighborhoods and replace them with richer White ones. It’s the newest form of Redlining.

        Back in the early 80s, the Lincoln District was a broader up ghost town. Now look at it. One of the best neighborhoods in Tacoma. Cảm ơn bạn bè!


      7. Tacomee, I don’t know why but the CID is the one place in Seattle eastsiders want to go to. Maybe because it is a quick shot across the bridge before downtown and can be easily accessed from Dearborn or 5th Ave., or it has eyes on the street, the Asian food that is generally better than on the eastside, it is authentic (although the current and planned zoning will make it like Belltown). The only drawback is parking. SDOT reduced rates but there just isn’t enough parking. Most park at Uwajimaya that will validate parking for one hour for $10 and 2 hours for $20 in purchases, and what eastsider is not going to take the opportunity to shop at Uwajimaya anyway if in the CID, so effectively the parking is free and my wife is walking out with $100 in purchases. Win/win.

        This thread is making me think about heading to the CID tonight with my wife. 5 minutes from my house across I-90. I miss the old Sea Garden (which had two wine choices, red or sweet white), but my wife’s Chinese friend recently showed her a hidden gem the locals go to after their Mahjong class.

  9. Take that $700 billion savings and build a new UW downtown campus at the “Civic Campus.” Put some dorms and other housing in too. Maybe move the business school to downtown. Line 2, 3 get UW Main Campus and Line 1 gets UW Downtown. Move the jail and courthouse to Kent. There’s no reason for that to be in downtown Seattle where costs are so high.

    Have the South CID station exit out of Uwajimaya.

    North and South CID could be a decent option if we do it right. The Denny station should be on Terry too and the Seattle Center station should be on 2nd W and Republican.

  10. WHAT is the big deal with installing fare gates and platform screens? Yes, “fare gates”, not waist height “turnstiles” that people can jump over. Sure, it would cost a pretty penny, probably on the order of $100 million or up, and the downtown stations wouldn’t be so beautiful. But it would keep street people off the system, decreasing unpleasantness and increasing safety. And it would go some way toward funding the system.

    I like nice places, and I don’t like tweakers and junkies. I have compassion for them; I understand that most can’t help their addiction and happily pay my taxes, a tiny bit of which goes to help them with recovery. Once in a while I will listen to their sad song for a few minutes; everyone deserves to be heard.

    But the transit system should not be a rolling bedroom, bathroom or shooting gallery. Snoozing in the morning on the way to work certainly can be excepted, but it’s a better idea to do some work or read something informative or fun.

    Every Link station already has fare machines outside the “fare paid area”. All that has to be done is make that red line a transparent wall with fare gates in it. I like the classic New York floor-to-ceiling multi-bar one-way turnstile. Make it some kind of dreary institutional brick color to remind people how nice they had it before they screwed up by being irresponsible.

    Do it.

    1. “But the transit system should not be a rolling bedroom, bathroom or shooting gallery.”

      Hyperbole much? Link as it stands it relatively pleasant and quite safe. If your goal is system funding that is one thing. But if the goal is to keep an almost insignificant fraction of “undesirables” off public transit, partially paying for light rail from Issaquah to Kirkland is a better use of those funds.

    2. So your saying that no one ever has any problem on the New York City Subway because of the fare gates?

      1. Ah no. What Tom Terrific is saying is fare gates would be part of a bigger solution. I’d agree with that. Jesus people! The tunnel elevators all smell like piss. Something needs to be done.

        How about everybody has their ticket checked and anybody who didn’t pay gets a $125 fine by an actual transit cop? That would increase the fare box numbers and increase ridership as well. Paying customers like the idea of cops on the trains keeping them safe. There’s an older, wealthier law-and-order set that’s just skipping the “Seattle transit circus” entirely….. Sound Transit needs to cater to those folks. Because they have money. Homeless druggie types…. no money. It’s not that hard…. fallow the money. Grandma needs to feel safe on the train.

      2. It ultimately comes down to cost/benefit. Has anybody come up with concrete numbers as to how much installing faregates would cost?

      3. “The tunnel elevators all smell like piss. Something needs to be done.”

        Maybe $100 million in public restrooms would be a better investment to fix that? Just because someone pays a $2.50 fare doesn’t prevent them from needing a bathroom.

      4. Asdf2: St Louis just started retrofitting their 38 stations to add fare gates. The project budget is $52M. That’s probably a good comparison although local cost differences and designing for higher station usage for Sound Transit would probably push it into the $100M-$150M range.


      5. Ross is correct. Fare gates or turnstiles wouldn’t eliminate the accusations of racism. Activists in NYC say the system is racist because a disproportionate number of poc are charged with fare-beating. Bing it.

      6. Glenn in Portland,

        Yes to more public bathrooms!!!! but behind the turnstiles in subway stations… those restrooms would be for paying transit customers, not street people to get high in. I think a $3 charge isn’t a bad idea for restrooms either. Riders should have the choice between using a nicer pay toilet or a free public one (that’s going to be much, much filthier). Bathroom attendants and paying money are they way restrooms work in Germany.

        And yes, it’s going to a bigger dedicated budget for station upkeep… much more than Sound Transit is currently willing to pay. Nice things cost money.

      7. In Germany, it’s not unusual to see people relieve themselves in places that aren’t restrooms. So I’m not sure that model helps with the particular issues you want to solve.

      8. Agree. And unfortunately in the US, people abuse what they have no stake in. Public bathrooms in Europe often cost money and they are clean.

        You get what you pay for. Except we’ve decided if you don’t want to pay for transit or smart phones, you can have those specific items for free.

        And look where we are.

        Link is doomed if they can’t clear the junky user class off the trains. It’s that simple. And the minority of the public on this board is not who ST needs to convince to ride the train. So spare me your “second hand fentanyl smoke is not that bad for you” nonsense.

      9. “How about everybody has their ticket checked and anybody who didn’t pay gets a $125 fine by an actual transit cop?”

        Did you not read any part of the State v. Meredith decision?

      10. those restrooms would be for paying transit customers, not street people to get high in.

        Right, because those getting high are going to be swayed by having to pay an extra three bucks. Get real. Again, there are plenty of people in the New York City subway system that cause problems. “It smells like piss” used to the their motto (just kidding). But in all seriousness, illegal drugs aren’t that cheap. Even booze isn’t that cheap. Three dollars is nothing. If they see this as a place to get warm and get high, they will pay it. Or they will find a way in. Unless you have guards at every station (which is expensive) there is little you can do. Even then, folks will find a way.

      11. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/02/can-we-end-violent-crime-on-transit-without-over-policing/

        Mayor Lightfoot took crime and crime on transit lightly. She received I think 17% in her reelection primary. Adams is intent on not making that mistake in NY. Fare enforcement is more than revenue: it is secured stations and safety.

        Crime on transit is scary because riders feel like prisoners among strangers they presume are from the lower class. They are in underground stations, or waiting at bus stops or urban or empty streets, or stuck on trains or buses like a cage. Everyone has seen movies like Death Wish, except that is a movie and the poor victim does not have a gun (but probably more should and these days do).

        If Metro or ST want to go to free fares I have no objection as long as the revenue loss — if any — is covered by reductions in service, not general tax increases. I think the choice riders is already gone.

        I do think however free transit will get a lot more objection from businesses and property owners to being near them, like the CID, if fares are free, if for no other reason they will assume those with the money to pay a fare are now driving or just not taking transit. Already many businesses and property owners see 3rd Ave. as what happens with transit. Making fares free will only exacerbate that concern.

        Things are much different today than when Walker was writing about transit. Ridership is so low, and traffic congestion, plus WFH, ride share, there are a lot more alternatives to transit. Cars scale just about everywhere today, even downtown Seattle. Transit really is for the poor or I guess committed urbanist.

        Pre-pandemic one argument for fares was the peak commuter and their employer could afford the fare, which increased service levels which these choice riders demanded, helped meet farebox recovery goals despite riders who did not pay a fare. Most articles I have read note that for choice riders frequency, safety, cleanliness and reliability are much bigger factors than the cost of a fare whether they ride transit or take some other mode.

        The same articles also note the increase in transit ridership from free fares rarely reduces driving, but traffic congestion post pandemic is no longer the issue it was. Areas are mostly deurbanizing. The new riders from free fares are either very poor, or pedestrians taking short trips like the free downtown bus Metro ran. So free fares, according to Walker, results in poorer service which reduces the number of choice riders but increases the number of very poor riders, not exactly the recipe to revitalize those vacant city and county buildings near the mega station.

        Free fares if not supported by general tax increases is a discussion for the 10% who ride transit because they have skin in the game. Choice riders have options, especially with WFH, and I believe poor and unsafe/unclean transit in this area is a big factor for staff refusing to return to an office downtown, and a lot of employers are going to subsidized parking or Uber. I am just amazed more don’t see the irony in Harrell and Constantine claiming a mega station in Pioneer Square will revitalize the area and their vacant buildings when city and county staff refuse to return to in office work downtown in the exact same location. Who will fill those new buildings? Blue chip non-government workers?

        One of the unfortunate realities of the loss of the choice rider is the political demand for better transit went with them. Choice riders are whiny and demanding because the poor learn to put up with crap, and their councils listen to them because they know how to make noise. I doubt ST 1, 2 or 3 — and certainly 4 — would pass today, or even be placed on the ballot, because: 1. there isn’t the political class demanding it because they are not riding transit; and 2. key swing demographics like the eastside that determine most county levies are not riding transit. As Tacomee stated rather inelegantly but correctly, as far as Harrell is concerned The Stranger readers can go F themselves. That is the new mayor of Seattle. Harrell is at the DSA gala.

        I don’t think the recent court decision is very important. Appellate judges usually became judges because there were unsuccessful lawyers, and often do stupid and ideological things like silly law professors when the pro game is played for money (which is why conservatives think legislatures and Congress should do those stupid things, not courts). Starting with the pandemic, farebox recovery has declined pretty heavily for Metro and ST and riders don’t have to pay a fare if they don’t want to. The only options I see are to raise fares on those who can or will pay a fare although those riders are vanishing for ironically non-fare reasons, or cut service and go to free fares.

        Or buy a car. Once you do you will never go back to transit.

      12. They replaced the floor to ceiling models with hop-overs, so yes, they still have problems.

        I grant that the floor-to-ceilings are ugly, ugly, ugly, but they are quite effective.

      13. Michael, that works for a single boarding door, but not for a train. And anyway, they’re Curitiba has hop-overs. Anybody who wants to can vault over them. Floor-to-ceilings are ugly but nobody enters without paying.

        And Ross, those $3 bathrooms in most countries have attendants who can summon the police.

  11. It really sucks when your bus back to the Eastside was truncated to UW. And blithely the email comes, evening trip cancellations. You won’t remember the details but you sure will notice if you get to UW and miss the 10:29pm bus and find out you have a 1 hour 5 minute wait. To say nothing of the fact that some drivers leave right on time and drive past stops early and others know there is slack in the schedule so they start 5+ minutes late. It’s like Forrest Gump says, you never know what you are going to get

    The Route 255 trip to University District scheduled at 7:47 PM from Totem Lake Transit Center – Bay 2 (WB) and three other trips are not operating today.

    Affected trips:
    to University District scheduled at 7:47 PM from Totem Lake Transit Center – Bay 2 (WB)
    to University District scheduled at 9:50 PM from Totem Lake Transit Center – Bay 2 (WB)
    to Totem Lake TC scheduled at 8:44 PM from NE Campus Pkwy & University Way NE – Bay 2,
    to Totem Lake TC scheduled at 11:04 PM from NE Campus Pkwy & University Way NE – Bay 2,

    1. The problem isn’t the 255 going to UW. The problem is the cancelled trips. Metro should not schedule more trips than they have the drivers to reliably staff.

      That said, if I were ever stuck with a 1 hour wait at a connection point, it is very unlikely that I would actually wait. I’d pull out the Uber and pay the $25 or whatever it costs to be home in 20 minutes, as if the bus had showed up. It sucks, but doing it once or twice a year isn’t that big of an expense in the scheme of things, and is still way cheaper than driving across the bridge every day, just in case.

    2. If the bus hadn’t been truncated at UW, you’d have been waiting downtown. And the wait would have been twice as long, because the truncation allowed for more frequent service. And those in North Seattle would have had to go downtown to catch the 255 to Kirkland, or wait at the Montlake freeway stop with nothing but concrete and cars whizzing by. I’m sorry you had to endure this, but the driver shortage is difficult to fix.

      1. Yup. I remember that too from the pre restructure days.

        The only thing I really miss about the old 255 is the Stewart and Denny stop for both walking up to capitol hill and shopping at REI. But, it’s not the end of the world. I can get to Capitol Hill by riding Link from UW station, and I can ride my bike to the Bellevue REI instead of busing to the Seattle REI.

  12. This is a misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling. They did not strike down fare enforcement checks by police, and they made no comment on the impotent “fare ambassadors” that are currently serving on the Link. Six of the nine justices said that fare enforcement by the police is OK. The “lead ruling” does not form a precedent, since it was only joined by three of the justices. What matters here is the reasoning, not the outcome of this specific case, and a majority of the court disagrees with the reasoning that police fare enforcement is unconstitutional.

    1. Or because they have lousy frequency. The LA Metro is 15-20 minutes on weekends. So it’s not exactly frequent enough and LA Metro has been unwilling to improve transit services.

  13. To be clear, this case is related to CT and their bus system and not directly to ST or LR. That said, clearly there are implications.

    But ST could do a better job educating the public on how the fare system works on LR. I’d suggest the following:

    1). Print something like the following on all ORCA cards and day use paper tickets: “Sound Transit Light Rail is a ‘Proof of Payment System’. By being on the platform, or in a ST vehicle, you consent to be approached by a fare enforcement officer for proof of payment.”

    2). Instead of all those silly “ST does not tolerate harassment…” audio messages, switch at least some of them over to a verbal explaination of the above in #1.

    3). Improve signage at the stations and in the LRV’s to indicate the same as in #1.

    4). Use unarmed officers for fare enforcement, backed up by armed officers as required.

    I’m out of the country now and everything here is based on proof of payment. Works great. No reason it can’t work in the US either. We aren’t that bad as a society.

    1. Lazarus, there is no need to complicate it. You don’t need additional white noise announcements, we need less infact. No additional printed material. Just better signage and placement of fare readers. This is what Copenhagen and most of German speaking world does for transit.
      They place them squarely at escalators/elevators/stairs and have Signage that reads check in/check out for fare readers and “proof of payment area beyond this point” with possibly tape on the ground to define the area sometimes.
      You don’t need anything fancier than that.

  14. Does anyone know what’s going on with cancellations on trolley routes? The 7, 36, 44, 49, and 70 have all been awful the last few days, though the 44 has been especially bad — yesterday, it only had 75% of its trips scheduled with 30 minute gaps in headways. I was hoping we were mostly past the route mass cancellations but I guess not…

    1. Until we demand better from Metro/ST and our elected officials the route cancelations will never improve. With the amount of time the issue has gone on, it is clear the situation is the system itself and not driver demand exceeding supply.

      Until and unless we do something, those who can do something to fix the problem have no motivation to do anything.

      1. The questions A Joy are:

        1. Who will demand better of Metro and ST that will motivate those agencies to do better?

        2. Who are the people to demand better service from? If politicians, they will ask whether transit issues are important to the bulk of their voters. For management it will come down to their CBA. For example, maybe 10% of voters use transit, but crime, zoning, housing, schools, etc. impact 50% to 100% of their voters. Take Harrell: IMO he sees transit as a low priority, and most transit riders voted for his opponent.

        3. What is “better”. It sounds like it is route reliability. I agree with those who think reliability is more important than frequency, especially if budgets are stressed.

        4. Most importantly what is the cause of the problems because that determines the how. Is it union contracts, bad management, driver shortages (I agree that excuse is overused), unreasonable rider demands, or funding?

        My guess is if the County Council hauled Metro or ST management in for a public hearing management would claim it is funding because; 1, that is true;; 2. lack of funding isn’t their fault and every agency wants more funding. Too often government rewards bad management with more money.

        Lower farebox recovery due to fewer riders and fewer riders paying a fare is what Rogoff told the ST Board last June 1 is the problem and ST has huge amounts of (capital) money. My guess is Metro would say the same, along with huge areas to cover with some transit, low fares, exhaustion of Covid funds, high inflation, worker shortages (which in large part is lack of funding), and inadequate general funding are the cause of the problems.

        There isn’t much that can be done for ST because its funding is set by levies, and a steep decline in farebox recovery with a 40% assumption is crushing O&M budgets (which the Board knows because Rogoff told them that 8 months ago).

        For Metro the issue is more general fund tax subsidies or more local levies or benefit districts although Seattle already has one. Or more more farebox recovery based on dollar per rider mile. But increased general funding (taxes) has to go to all parts of the county, and outside Seattle transit is simply not a pressing issue for politicians whereas taxes are.

        Of course, for both ST and Metro higher farebox recovery would go directly to operations, but it looks like progressives are going in the opposite direction of lower farebox recovery — on top of the loss of the peak rider — and lower and less reliable levels of service, which is the binary choice absent some other funding source.

        IMO I don’t see the political calculus changing unless federal funding makes a difference although so much of that is for capital maintenance. So in the short term I would direct the transit agencies to do a better job giving more notice of cancellations so riders can make alternate plans, which is better than waiting for a bus that is not coming or will be very late. In many ways, reliability is about advanced notice so riders can plan around cancellations when increased funding is unlikely.

        If I were a transit rider in this market I wouldn’t shoot for the moon for more funding or taxes to create county wide coverage with frequency and reliability everywhere. I don’t think transit riders have that clout, especially for the suburban parts of the county. I would shoot for what is possible. That is better advance notice of cancelled or delayed routes. Certainly a better app that is simple and in real time.

      2. 1. Who will demand better of Metro and ST that will motivate those agencies to do better?

        The tax payer and the end user. In short, almost all of us.

        2. Who are the people to demand better service from?

        Everyone in the “pipeline”. This is a systemic issue now. Politicians, administration… all need to be held accountable. Systemic issues require systemic changes.

        3. What is “better”.

        This is specifically about the cancelation of scheduled runs, although that is far from the only systemic issues these agencies have.

        4. Most importantly what is the cause of the problems because that determines the how.

        That is the best question out of all of these. Thankfully the answer has been clear for some time, although it seems to be the hardest thing to change. Transit in this region, hell government in this region, has too many employees “at the top”. Not in terms of salary, but in role. Most successful organizations are 90+% basic employees. Management, administrators, and officers are rarely even 10% of overall employee numbers. While the precise number escapes me due to migraine and covid, I do know Metro/ST numbers are insanely high in comparison.

      1. I guess my question is more about why trolley routes seem to be targeted right now, despite being among the highest-ridership routes, competitive with or exceeding some RR routes. Is it because Metro only lets drivers on routes that they’ve been trained on, or a lack of trolley-qualified drivers, or trainings associated with the service change (I hope it’s this, since it’ll be over by next week), or something to do with spring break vacations, or possibly because they think they’re running the 44 every 15 minutes when they’re really running it at something like :00, :10, :20, :30 and then skipping the rest of the hour?

        I certainly sympathize with Carl’s plights with the 255, especially since Metro sold the route change to UW with a frequency boost that’s somewhat diminished with the cancellations, but the 255 never had more than 10% of its trips canceled in the last week while the the 1 had 17% and 10 had 14% of their trips canceled on Monday; and yesterday the cancellations were even more extreme (2 – 11%, 3 – 8%, 7 – 20%, 10 – 7%, 12 – 16%, 36 – 13%, 44 – 25%, 49 – 15%, 70 – 9%). Meanwhile, routes that run mostly empty like the 20 were at full strength all week. If Metro is back to a severe shortage of drivers, why not suspend unproductive routes to shore up the productive ones?

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